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Sailor of the King (1953, Michael Rennie, Wendy Hiller)



In 1916 Royal Navy lieutenant Michael Rennie goes on five days leave and meets Wendy Hiller on a London-bound train. They spend the night together but, when Rennie proposes marriage, Hiller tells him his real love is the sea and that a junior officer cannot be burdened with a wife.

In 1940, during a naval battle, the German raider Essen is holed by a torpedo after a violent encounter with two British ships. One of them is sunk and Leading Seaman Jeffrey Hunter, a Canadian serving in the Royal Navy, is picked up by the Essen which then puts in to Resolution in order to carry out repairs. Hunter decides to try and delay her departure and escapes, armed with a rifle, and takes up a position on the barren island from which he is able to slow down the repair work by firing on the German seamen.

And neither the sun, his growing thirst, a fractured ankle nor the attempts by the Germans to shoot him are able to end his sniping. When, eventually, the Essen finally puts to sea, she is attacked by a British ship commanded by Rennie and sunk. Hunter’s heroic action is later described by a German survivor and he is awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross.

production details
UK | 83 minutes | 1953
Director: Roy Boulting
Writer: Valentine Davies, from the novel Brown on Resolution by C S Forester

Jeffrey Hunter as Signalman Andrew ‘Canada’ Brown
Michael Rennie as Lt. Richard Saville
Wendy Hiller as Lucinda Bentley
Bernard Lee as Petty Officer ‘Stokes’ Wheatley
Victor Maddern as Signalman Willy Earnshaw
John Horsley as Commander John Willis
Patrick Barr as Captain Tom Ashley, HMS Amesbury
Robin Bailey as Lieutenant John Stafford, HMS Stratford